Is Kyle Busch A Power To Be Reckoned With Or A Power Failure?

Like something out of the movie Groundhog Day, Kyle Busch rises to a level and an objectionable situation occurs over and over again, aggravatingly repeating itself.  To put it another way, those that put their backing behind Kyle Busch are like Charlie Brown having Lucy pull the football away time and again – just when fans think this time he’ll close the deal, he figures a way to somehow pull defeat out of the jaws of victory.

May 11, 2013; Darlington, SC, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch is introduced before the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

That’s what seemingly happened at Darlington Raceway when Busch emerged on the wrong side of victory just as everything pointed to another win for the #18 Toyota.

Although I’m not a big fan of Kyle Busch personally, his talent on the track may be second-to-none.  Yet, applying that talent week-in and week-out for maximum results doesn’t always work out.

Dominates Southern 500

Let’s take the Southern 500 for the last of many examples.  Kyle Busch dominated the event.  Yes, his older brother Kurt had the pole and took the early lead, but it was only a matter of time before Kyle took over and boy, did he take over.  Kyle led for over two-thirds of the laps, and really, there wasn’t anyone else in his league.  Sure, Jimmie Johnson poked his head up near the lead a couple times and one of Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Jeff Gordon, at times appeared capable of staying close.   However, unless you were a Joe Gibbs Racing powered Toyota like Kyle, Matt Kenseth or Denny Hamlin, it didn’t look good for driving into Victory Lane.

Another Hendrick entry, Kasey Kahne battled to the front with a fast car and after a late race restart, stayed with Busch.  Kahne tried to get ahead of Busch but Kyle bumped Kahne and kept the lead – that aggressive move may have been his undoing – but Kasey came back, diving down to make an additional pass, which he pulled off; but, Busch tapped him every so slightly, almost knocking Kahne out of the race and certainly out of contention.

Kyle likely cut a tire during those collisions and that eventually would cost him as he dropped back to sixth place by the end of the race.  His teammate Kenseth would win and his other teammate Hamlin was second (source: ESPN).

Barely hanging on to Top 10

Currently, Kyle sits eighth in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup standings after 11 events this season.  He has two victories this year after garnering only one win, all of last season.  He also has two poles already in 2013, which is as many as he’s ever had in an entire year’s schedule of races.  However, among the 11 starts so far this year, Busch has crashed, lost an engine and finished outside the Top 20 five times.  To use another metaphor, Kyle Busch seems to be the Jekyll and Hyde of NASCAR.

And that leads us back to the original question.  Essentially, are we looking at Kyle Busch in a constant state of almost being a superstar?

Allegorically, Kyle Busch is like a shooting star that may be flickering its way out or how about that he’s a supernova – powerful and ready to explode with a championship, and then quickly fading.  He’s all these things and more.

Lack of stability and reliability along with a nasty disposition have been Kyle’s worse attributes.  Yes, he whines too but so do some other big-time drivers.  And while these liabilities don’t always fester into problems, they are enough to keep the seemingly endless budding superstar, well, continuously budding … but not a superstar.

Second in-a-row with Kahne

This was the second race in-a-row that Kahne lost a chance at winning because of Kyle Busch – he was taken out by Busch at Talladega the week prior.  A normally pleasant easy going guy who almost never complains, Kasey Kahne was agitated by the incessant overaggressive nature of Kyle Busch saying,

“That’s his third one when he’s been around me this year.  I don’t really understand it.  We’re battling for the lead or the top two or three spots, and where he entered and hit his brakes, he just crushed the splitter.  We do it all race long.  The way he did it, he hit the brakes, and you have no front end.  He went straight on entry. His car’s going straight; it’s not even turning left.  It’s just a mistake on his part.  I imagine he’ll call me again tomorrow and say sorry.”

Busch didn’t respond because that’s what he does when things don’t go his way.  And yet again, this is another side of him that doesn’t help any legacy he may be trying to build – being less than forthcoming to the press and fans.

Same thing all over again

We know about his judgment issues in the past, on and off the track, and some have questioned whether he should be driving at all.  Oddly, he’s raged into apologies of sorts plus actually has taken a title contender in Trucks (Ron Hornaday Jr.) out of the race and championship (source: USA Today).

The story is a familiar one.  Is Kyle Busch ever going to mature satisfactorily to allow himself to be a power to be reckoned with and win championships?  I guess that is the $64,000 question.  In the meantime, we’ll all continue to watch him either blowup the standings and dominate like he can or will he just blowup personally and never be the driver he could have been.

Additional sources: Yahoo! Sports, NASCAR

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Tags: Joe Gibbs Racing Kasey Kahne Kyle Busch Southern 500

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